Sixteenth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada

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Annex A: A Demographic Snapshot of the Federal Public Service: 2008

Table of Contents


Part I – Demographic Profile of the Public Service

1. Context 2. Public Service Diversity 3. Age Profile of the Public Service 4. Retirements 5. Public Service Years of Experience

Part II – Demographic Profile of Executives

1. Population Size of the Executive Group 2. Executive Diversity 3. Age of Executives


This Annex builds on the extensive analysis presented in last year's report and focuses on key demographic elements of the federal public service.1 This profile provides an update on the current workforce while building on historical comparisons back to 1983. Part I provides a snapshot of the public service as a whole, while Part II focuses more specifically on the executive cadre.

Demographic Profile of the Public Service of Canada (March 31, 2008)
  • 263,000 employees (251,000 in 1983)
  • 54.9% women (42% in 1983)
  • 41.2% of executives are women (less than 5% in 1983)
  • 60.1% of employees in the regions and 39.9% in the National Capital Region
  • 85.5% indeterminate employees; 9.5% term employees; 5% casuals and students
  • 70.6% declare English their first official language; 29.4% declare French
  • Average age 44 years (39 in 1983)
  • Average age of executives 50.4 years (48.7 in 1983)
  • Public service represents 0.8% of the Canadian population (1% in 1983)

Part I - Demographic Profile of the Public Service

1. Context

The number of federal public servants in 2008 (263,000) is only slightly higher (4.8%) than in 1983 (251,000), while the Canadian population increased from 25.6 million to over 33.0 million, roughly 29% over the same period. Thus, as a proportion of the Canadian population, the public service decreased from 1.0% in 1983 to 0.8% in 2008. During this period, the real GDP doubled and total federal program spending in constant dollars increased by roughly 30%.

Figure 1: Trends in the Economy, Population, Federal Program Spending and Size of the Federal Public Service, 1983-84 to 2007-08

2. Public Service Diversity

a) Gender

The reversal in gender representation over the past 25 years remains one of the most significant changes in the public service. In 2008, women represent 54.9% of public servants (compared with 42% in 1983).

Figure 3: Representation of Employment Equity Groups in the Federal Public Service, 2005 to 2008, with Estimated Workforce Availability Based on the 2006 Census

Importantly, the number of new indeterminate hires and new terms of more than three months in 2007-08 exceeded workforce availability for three of the four employment equity groups (women, Aboriginal peoples and members of a visible minority). Women represented 58% of new hires, Aboriginal peoples 3.4% and visible minorities, an estimated 17.3%.

Figure 4: Employment Equity Group Representation Among New Indeterminate Hires and Terms Over Three Months in the Core Public Administration - 2007-2008 Compared with Estimated Workforce Availability Based on the 2006 Census

c) Language

The proportion of English and French speaking employees in the public service has remained relatively stable over the last 25 years. In 2008, 70.6% of federal employees indicated that English was their first official language. 29.4% of employees indicated that French was their first official language. This represents an increase of 2.1 percentage points, since 1983, of employees whose first official language was French.

3. Age Profile of the Public Service

The shift in the public service's age distribution is evident in Figure 6 below. In 2008, the average age of public servants was 44 years. Between 2003 and 2008, the share of employees 50 years of age or more increased by 4.5 percentage points to 33.6%, while the percentage of employees aged 35-49 dropped by 5.5 percentage points to 43.1%. Recruitment efforts over the past year point to a slight increase in the number of employees aged 25-34.

Figure 6: Federal Public Service Population by Age Bands for 2003-2008

4. Retirements

Over the last four years, the public service retirement rate has increased from 2.5% in 2004-05 to 3.4% in 2007-08. Over the next three years, it is projected that these rates will increase somewhat, rising to 3.7% of the public service in 2012-13.

Figure 7: Historic and Projected Retirement Rates for Federal Public Servants 2004-05 to 2012-13

5. Public Service Years of Experience

Today, the percentage of employees with 0-4 years of experience is just shy of one fifth of the public service (19.3% in 2008), reflecting the focus on recruitment in recent years. This should rise slightly with sustained recruitment on the part of the public service. The demographic aging of the public service is evident in the reduction of employees with 25+ years of experience.

Figure 8: Years of Experience in the Public Service 1983 to 2012

Part II – Demographic Profile of Executives

1. Population Size of the Executive Group

As of March 31, 2008, there were 6,182 executives in the public service. This represents 2.3% of total public service employment levels.

2. Executive Diversity

a) Employment Equity Groups

Between 2000 and 2008, representation levels among women in the executive cadre rose significantly. Women now occupy 42% of all executive positions in the federal public service (versus 28% in 2000). Levels of representation at the executive level for all other designated groups also increased steadily over the same time period. However, with the exception of representation of persons with disabilities, representation of all groups in the executive cadre is still below workforce availability.

Figure 9: Representation of Employment Equity Groups among Executives in the Core Public Administration in 2000 and 2008, with Estimated Workforce Availabily Based on the 2006 Census

b) Language

The proportion of executives declaring French as their first official language has increased significantly from 21% in 1983 to almost 30% in 2008.

3. Age of Executives

The average age of executives was 48 years in 1987. In 2008, it was 50.4 years. The shift in the age distribution of executives is more pronounced than in the rest of the public service. At senior levels (EX 04 and EX 05), the rise in the average age was even more pronounced.

Figure 11: Federal Public Service Executive Population Distribution by Age Bands for 2003 and 2008

The “public service” refers to the core public administration (those departments and agencies for which the Treasury Board is the employer) and separate employers (principally the Canada Revenue Agency, the Parks Canada Agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the National Research Council of Canada).

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